2020 NBA Draft: Kings Among Winners, Danny Ainge’s Celtics Among Losers

Boston added two rookies to an already-crowded locker room


November 19, 2020

It was another exciting draft night Wednesday with a few teams around the NBA landing first-round steals and a few other making head-scratching decisions.

Here’s our winners and losers from the 2020 NBA Draft:

Sacramento Kings: Tyrese Haliburton, Xavier Tillman, Jahmi’us Ramsey, Kenyon Martin Jr.
The Kings got a player No. 12 overall that many didn’t expect to slide that far in Iowa State guard Tyrese Haliburton. A young playmaker who makes everyone around him better, Haliburton entered Wednesday as one of the best guards in the class. Now, the Kings will have the ability to feature him with 2017 draftee DeAndre Fox, which should intrigue many Sacramento fans.

San Antonio Spurs: Devin Vassell, Tre Jones
San Antonio selected Vassell No. 11 overall, and the Spurs had been linked to the Florida State product as he’s a hardworking player that head coach Gregg Popovich covets. He should be a strong fit on a roster that doesn’t have much to offer on the wing. Jones slid quite a ways in a strong draft class of guards, but with his defensive prowess, the Duke product should be able to carve out a roll.

Washington Wizards: Deni Avdija, Vit Krejci
The Wizards got Avdija at No. 9, after the forward from Israel was rumored to be in the mix as high as fourth. Avdija has the size — 6-foot-9, 215 pounds — to play power forward but the ball handling capability to make him a true playmaker with a good upside. Washington must have been happy with his fall.

Honorable Mentions: Charlotte Hornets, LaMelo Ball; Miami Heat, Precious Achiuwa; Los Angeles Clippers trade for Luke Kennard.

Chicago Bulls: Patrick Williams, Marko Simonvic
Chicago took the ACC’s 6th Man of the Year with the No. 4 overall pick, a fair amount higher than many NBA Draft boards had the Florida State product going. Williams does offer intriguing upside with his 7-foot wingspan, but drafting a player who never started a game is a bit of a head scratcher. Simonvic, a 6-foot-11 center from Montenegro, is another developmental piece.

Boston Celtics: Aaron Nesmith, Payton Pritchard, Yam Madar
Look, this has more to do with Danny Ainge than it does with either Nesmith (No. 14) and Pritchard (No. 26). Both are well-respected players and could be valuable pieces longterm, but the fact the Celtics added two more players to an already crowded locker room is not ideal. (Yes, admittedly, we agree two draftees is better than four, which the C’s started the night with, but still.) We know it takes two teams to make a trade, but Ainge, the Celtics president of basketball operations, had us all thinking that Boston was going to package picks for a top-10 selection, or veteran player. Boston didn’t do either. Now Madar will be play professionally elsewhere as a draft-and-stash, and the C’s will send more pieces to the Maine Red Claws. Ainge, of course, expressed excitement in the selections.

Phoenix Suns: Jalen Smith
The Suns took Smith 10th overall, despite being well outside the top 10 on many NBA Draft boards. And in doing so, they opted out of taking Haliburton, who was already starting to slide. He could turn into a fine shot-blocking big, but that’s not exactly what you’re looking for in a top-10 pick.

Dishonorable Mentions: Denver Nuggets, Zeke Nnaji; Golden State Warriors injury to Klay Thompson.

Thumbnail photo via Jeffrey Becker/USA TODAY Sports Images
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